July 17, 2024
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Review of ‘Working Toward Moshiach’

One of the fundamental concepts in Torah Judaism is our collective redemption. Hardly a day passes that we do not find ourselves pleading to God to send Moshiach. And this is happening with more and more urgency as worldwide events become increasingly chaotic and frightening. But many of us remain confused and perplexed about what “sending Moshiach” really means.

What is Redemption all about, for the Jews and for the world?

In his fourth book, author Roy S. Neuberger opens new vistas in understanding what Redemption really means. Aptly named “Working Towards Moshiach” and compiled in the order of the weekly Torah Portion and the Jewish Holidays, Mr. Neuberger’s new book offers the reader a compendium of his weekly writings as they have appeared—complete with his own photographs—over the last six years in the newspaper Yated Ne’eman.

Throughout this time period, it is clear that Mr. Neuberger evolved into the consummate raconteur. Captivating the reader with scintillating narratives of his extensive travels across America, Israel as well as Eastern and Central Europe, he spotlights the human power to rise against all odds and the remarkable process by which Jews who were formerly distant from their tradition have returned to their ancient heritage. Additionally, this book offers profiles of remarkable personalities, who—despite political, religious and cultural adversity—have ignited their souls in ways that were hitherto never thought possible.

It seems that Mr. Neuberger is telling us that the way to hasten Moshiach’s arrival, and save ourselves in the process, translates into attaching ourselves to God through sincerity in prayer, learning Torah as an act of personal lifesaving and actualizing the unity of the Jewish people through mutual acts of kindness.

Mr. Neuberger generously peppers this book with quotes from the Torah, the Psalms, the Prophets and classic Jewish sources, which bring home the fact that Biblical prophesies and the words of the Rabbis are referring directly to our times.

“The Biblical Prophets told us thousands of years ago that, following a chaotic climax to world history, the world will return to spiritual tranquility and all mankind will once again recognize the existence of our Creator,” writes Mr. Neuberger. His writing actually enables us to listen for the “footsteps of Moshiach.”

Whether he is discussing the increasingly hostile anti-Semitism or frightening natural phenomena such as hurricanes, earthquakes, tornadoes and tsunamis, Mr. Neuberger offers trenchant insights into precisely what these “wakeup  calls” may mean.

Full disclosure is something that comes as second nature to this author. He recounts the fears that engulfed him in the wealthy, secular lifestyle of his New York City childhood. With great fervor he tells of his battles to make sense of life, his realization that the secular “values” of his youth were not values at all, his trip—accompanied by his devoted wife—through lifestyle after lifestyle, culminating in the day—actually the middle of the night—when he finally realized that he needed to believe in God in order to survive. That realization led, years later, to Newburgh, New York, where he and his wife were introduced to Torah Judaism by the legendary Rebbetzin Esther Jungreis. They became regular attendees at her Torah classes and aided in her outreach work. Mr. Neuberger and his wife thus embarked on a journey toward becoming workers in the vineyards of Torah, trying to give over to others the drama of their own spiritual odyssey.

“I remember the relief,” he writes, “when we came back to Torah. Every action in our lives was suddenly under the trustworthy direction of the Master of the Universe; nothing was left to chance. Can you imagine the comfort: to escape from the chaos, to come home to the warmth of a Jewish home where the Presence of God resides.”

Mr. Neuberger and his wife wanted to “express our thanks for what God gave us; to speak to others about what we had experienced,” and so they became sought-after speakers, crafting their addresses to diverse audiences around the globe.

Each person we meet in Mr. Neuberger’s compelling book serves to catapult us to the loftiest of levels. Whether it be Rabbi Chaim Kanievsky, Rabbi Yaakov Hillel or Rabbi Naftali Jaeger, exuberant audiences of students attending their programs around the world, or Jews in Odessa, Kiev, Vilnius, or Tbilisi, we glean an unshakable hope that Moshiach’s arrival is imminent. We seem to hear him knocking at the door, waiting for us to let him in.

Mr. Neuberger writes: “Wherever Torah is increased, peace comes to the world. As it says, ‘Torah scholars increase peace in the world… Abundant peace to those who love Your Torah…’” (Tractate Berochos 64a).

Mr. Neuberger’s passionate voice also gives us a deeper appreciation of the greatness of God, offering insights into the physical beauty of our planet and especially the Land of Israel. On these pages you can read about encounters with a rooster, a wild boar or the glory of a mountain range.

And what does it all have to do with “Working Toward Moshiach”?

“Clearly,” Mr. Neuberger writes, “Redemption is at hand. All the predicted signs are coming to pass in our own day.”

The stories in this thick volume seem to leap off the pages and into the heart and soul of the reader. Mr. Neuberger’s voice is replete with the erudition of a Torah scholar, a formidable grasp of logic, as well as a palpable understanding, passion and compassion.

There is more than a good chance that this book will not make it to the bookcase to collect dust. Readers will find themselves keeping it close at hand, referring back to its prescient words as we all prepare for the advent of Moshiach, soon—we hope!—in our own days!

By Fern Sidman

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